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Tomorrow's catch

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Science  20 Nov 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6519, pp. 902-905
DOI: 10.1126/science.370.6519.902

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Summary

Just a half-century ago, the trade in Atlantic salmon relied solely on fish caught in the wild. Salmon farming has since become a global business that generates $18 billion in annual sales. It's a trend seen worldwide: Aquaculture supplies nearly as much protein as capture fisheries, and production has been growing fast. Breeding has been key to the aquaculture boom. Now, advances in genomics are poised to expand and reshape aquaculture by helping improve a multitude of species and traits. Large breeding companies and research institutions are bolstering traditional breeding with genomic insights and tools such as gene chips, which speed up the identification of fish and shellfish carrying desired traits. Top targets include increasing growth rates and resistance to disease and parasites. Breeders are also improving the hardiness of some species, which could help farmers adapt to a shifting climate. And many hope to enhance traits that please consumers, by breeding fish for higher quality fillets, eye-catching colors, or increased levels of nutrients. Amid the enthusiasm about aquaculture's future, however, there are concerns. It's not clear, for example, whether consumers will accept fish and shellfish that have been altered using technologies that rewrite genes or move them between species. And some observers worry genomic breeding efforts are neglecting species important to feeding people in the developing world.

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